Bitter Blake questions his future in T.O.
Having been scratched for two games this season, an upset Jason Blake publicly mused about leaving the Maple Leafs.
CALGARY–Having been scratched for two games this season, an upset Jason Blake publicly mused about leaving the Maple Leafs.
"Maybe it's not meant for me to be here," Blake said yesterday after a Leaf practice here before the team headed to Edmonton. "It obviously hasn't worked out in the year and 16 games we played here.
"If it's not going to work out ... I know I can play, and I love to play. I'm not going to quit. If it's not here, I don't know."
The 35-year-old Blake is stuck on two goals this season, his second with the Leafs after signing a five-year, $20 million U.S. contract in the summer of 2007. He was the team's key signing that free-agent period, a 40-goal scorer the year before with the New York Islanders.
"I'm glad he's upset," said coach Ron Wilson, who has coached Blake on Team USA. "You don't want a guy to roll over and die. I want him to step on the ice, and play with piss and vinegar, which he hasn't done consistently.
"That's the Jason Blake I've watched, and coached, and haven't seen enough of this year, or last year in reviewing the tape."
Blake hasn't quite clicked as a Leaf, no matter who his linemates were. He was among the league leaders in shots last season, but managed a paltry 15 goals. He's again firing away – but usually low-percentage shots.
He lost his first-line spot early in the season, and has drifted further down the depth chart to the point where converted defenceman Ian White has played ahead of him.
He'll be back in the lineup tonight, playing left wing on a line with Alex Steen and White.
"For me it's stay positive and work hard," said Blake.
"No one wants to sit out. I don't understand it. But it's a coach's decision."
Wilson made it clear he's got to work hard to stay in the lineup.
"He's got to step on the ice and get the job done," said Wilson. "Go harder to the net, make people around him better. Do the little things we ask lots of other people to do. We don't have exceptions to the way we want to play.
"He's had a couple of good games. But he hasn't been consistent. I don't care what he says in papers, its irrelevant, it's what you do on the ice."
Blake doesn't have a no-trade or no movement clause. Many believe the Leafs would like to move him off the roster, but few teams would be willing to take a chance on an underachiever with such a big ticket.
Blake's agent, Neil Sheehy, said Blake is still a loyal Leaf.
"Any player worth his salt is never happy when he doesn't play," said Sheehy. "With that said, you have to find a way to give the coach what he wants so that you play every night.
"His loyalty is to the Toronto Maple Leafs until he's told differently. I'm not making any calls. He's playing for the Leafs. That's where he signed, that's where he's going to be."
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